West Kirby 1 Ashville Reserves 2. Report.

West Kirby 1 v Ashville Reserves 2 – Match Report.

In Nathan Brooks’ first game in charge of West Kirby F.C, his side were defeated on an afternoon of great end to end action. 

The first half started in a fast-paced manner as the hosts took the lead in the opening stages. A well worked counter-attack down the left hand side saw Sam Haley netting past the visiting keeper with a controlled close range header.

Ashville would soon begin to dominate possession, showing the game wasn’t out of their reach as they aimed to get an equaliser. They would hit the woodwork and force keeper Lewis Burrows into making a few close-range saves, Brooks’ men would finish the half in a stronger fashion.

A second goal would soon be scored as Alfie Dwyer netted with a towering header, the hosts failing to clear the ball from a set piece. 

As the half grew on, the visitors would dominate possession but struggle to create any clear cut chances. 

However, with Ashville showing more attacking intent than their opponents they would win the game in the last moments of play as Dwyer got his brace with a powerful header. 

Speaking after the game, West Kirby captain Callum McCaffrey gave his thoughts on a strong performance. 

“I believe we started the game well, Ashville Reserves are a good side and won a lot of their individual battles but we managed to cause them trouble. In all honesty, we should’ve done better to defend both goals but despite the result I feel we are going in the right direction”.

McCaffrey would then give the man of the match award to Matthew Croft, who he felt ‘had a great game in midfield for the visitors’.

West Kirby F.C matchday squad: Lewis Burrows, Callum McCaffrey, Zach Phillips, Patrick Carpenter, Dave Hird, Harrison Hindley, Charlie Clewlow, Jordan Chwalko, Sam Haley, Tila Davies, Josh Sutton, Dan Lewis, Jay Rimmer, Joe Stephenson.

Rochdale meeting the opposition.

Rochdale meeting the opposition. 

Tranmere last met Rochdale in September, when they were enduring a mixed start under the second managerial coming of Micky Mellon. The Whites would end up losing that day, 1-0, in a frustrating manner. However, Rovers have since picked up form and thus go into the game against The Dale in much higher spirits this time ‘round.

I spoke to Rochdale supporter ‘@RochdaleFan’ who gave me their thoughts on the visitors start to the season before telling me about their danger men and giving his opinion on how he sees the upcoming encounter panning out.

What were your expectations going into the season and what are they now as we enter the second half of the campaign?

We came into the season, not knowing what to expect if I’m being honest. After relegation and all the things that happened in the summer (Fighting hostile takeovers, New manager coming in with a couple of weeks to go until the season started), most Dale fans would have accepted a season of just stabilisation and building the foundations for a promotion push next season. 

Heading into the second half of the season, the optimistic side of me think we have the quality in the squad to push for a play-offs place, but on the other hand would happily take a mid table finish.

What are your thoughts on those in charge at The Dale? Robbie Stockdale was appointed manager in the summer and the club’s owners are …?

Robbie Stockdale, I have nothing but good words to say about him. First management role for him, with very little time to get a squad together and he’s passing it with flying colours. He just understands what the club is about.

I’m proud to say that Rochdale are quite unique as a club in the way that the fans own the majority of the club. Other shareholders are our chairman Simon Gauge. Simon and the rest of the board have faced challenges (fighting of multiple hostile takeovers) that most owners would have cracked under. Like Robbie they just get what the club is about. And unlike our previous board members (E.g., David Bottomley), you know that the decisions they are making are within the best interest of the club.

Who would you say are the visitors danger men? Furthermore, who do you see as the stand out hosting players?

We lost our two most influential players in Jake Beesley and Corey O’Keeffe. One to watch out for from us is Alex Newby. Play usually in the RF role, links the play up between midfield and attack well. Also has that little bit of magic to get past an defender or to unlock them with a pass.

A quite noticeable danger man is one of your recent signings – Kane Hemmings. Great signing for League 2 level. Has a decent scoring record, wherever he’s been. Also, Jay Spearing is another player that stands out to me. He is the exact player Rochdale are dying out for in our midfield – Tough tackling experienced midfielder.

The last time the two sides met was in mid September, Rochdale were the hosts and won 1-0 via a late Danny Cashman strike. How would you describe the course of that particular ninety minutes?

At times I thought it was just going to be one of those games that we would create loads of chances but will be left frustrated. I thought Dale was quite dominant over the 90 minutes and didn’t think Tranmere offered too much attacking wise. 

How do you see the upcoming fixture panning out (score prediction etc)? Also, why do you think this meeting will pose different questions than the previous encounter (if you do)?

After 28 days without a game, I don’t think Dale could have found much harder opponents to have as a first game back at the moment. Tranmere are in a decent run of form and are looking serious promotion contenders. But, our record against the top 7 has been fantastic this season. Think it will be a close game and the points will be shared in a 1-1 draw.

What starting eleven do you think Stockdale will select and how would you describe the playing style he’s implemented on his team? 

Hard to predict this, as it’s uncertain as to whether we still have some covid cases in the squad or not. But on the basis we have a fully fit squad (apart from Keohane who is out injured), I think Stockdale will select:

GK – Joel Coleman

CB – Eoghan O’Connell

CB – Paul Downing

CB – Jeriel Dorsett 

RWB – Stephen Dooley

CM – Liam Kelly

CM – George Broadbent 

LWB – Aidy White

RF – Alex Newby 

ST – Josh Andrews

LF – Conor Grant 

Thinking of previous encounters between Tranmere and Rochdale, what games/moments stand out as being memorable for you and have you ever been to Prenton Park?

Tranmere away is actually one of those days that I have looked forward to in most recent years. One game in particular that has stood out to me is the game when we beat you 3-2 in the first game of the 2019/20 season. 

As we’re now midway into the January transfer window, who would you like The Dale to sign and would you say there are any particular positions that need to be strengthened?

We have lost two key players – Jake Beesley and Aaron Morley so far. So they will need replacing. We saw our first signing yesterday (Paul Downing) and according to Robbie Stockdale there should be more signings getting completed today. Positions that I would like to see get strengthened are RWB (Hopefully Corey O’Keeffe signing on a permanent), tough tackling DM, a ST (Been linked with Darlington’s Luke Charman).

Nathan Brooks interview – West Kirby F.C.

West Kirby F.C manager interview.

The lower leagues of football is something that I feel deserves more attention, with the amount of untapped talent and action that are packed into games up and down the country. 

Thus, following West Kirby’s appointment of manager Nathan Brooks I caught up with him to discuss his coaching journey so far and what he plans on bringing to the team that he has very recently inherited. 

Nathan, first of all congratulations on becoming West Kirby FC’s manager. How would you describe your coaching journey so far?

I began coaching at 16 years old. I’ve coached at every age group in junior football with various grassroots clubs. I have coached county representative squads and became involved with talent recognition for local professional clubs. 

In 2018, I began coaching senior football as an Assistant Manager with West Kirby FC (West Cheshire Division 1). I then went on to become 1st team manager at Rhos Aelwyd (Welsh National League Division 1), Reserve Team Manager at Heswall FC & I have now returned to West Kirby FC as 1st Team Manager (West Cheshire Division 2).

I would describe my coaching journey as varied. I think this has had a very positive impact on the way I coach & manage situations. Every person I have met in football has taught me something, good and/or bad. As a relatively young football manager, you don’t tend to get easy or attractive jobs so having a large bank of positive & negative experiences has really helped.

Where would you say West Kirby’s current position is in comparison to those of teams that you have coached or managed in the past? Is this a step up that you are happy to be taking? What were the key factors in you wanting to become manager at the club?

I have been at the lower end of a league table before as a coach, manager & a supporter unfortunately. What is unique for me in this situation is the timing, needless to say it is much harder to implement change in the middle of the season. For me, West Kirby is a huge club with a proud history in the West Cheshire League. So having the opportunity to become involved was a very easy decision to make. I know the committee and respect what they have done for the club so the challenge of rebuilding a squad to compete in Division 2 was very attractive.

Touching on the team and the characteristics/skills that you want to teach the group of players you’ve taken on. How would you describe the team’s qualities, in comparison to those that they share the league with and what are you looking to implement on them in your time at the club?

I would say that the most common similarity in each of the players in the squad is that they all have a good level of football intelligence! I am confident that many of them will go to coach/manage themselves. This quality will play a big part in us achieving our points target, in the context of where we are currently placed in the West Cheshire 2nd Division. Many of our opponents will be much further down the road in what they want to achieve, so we will need to adapt quickly to manage difficult situations during matches. By the start of next season, I am hopeful that we will be able to identify as one of the fittest, hardworking & organised teams in the division.

What would you say is a realistic ambition for this season and then touching on the next and the one after that? Do you tend to have a three year aim in the lower leagues or is it a case of looking at the next match, although that is a cliche, and aiming to build success whether that be through promotion or building a team with solid foundations?

At this moment, the main ambition for West Kirby is to remain in the West Cheshire Division 2.

In terms of targets, I prefer to work on averages. I will set targets for the team, based on goals and points per game, usually at the beginning of a season. And use that as a narrative throughout the campaign. Any football manager, at any level doesn’t have the luxury of looking 3 years ahead of time. But, I also find it unhealthy to ‘take one game at a time’. The saying “you are never as good as you think you are after a win, and you are never as bad as you think you are after a loss” sticks with me. So, with that in mind, using averages to monitor progression really helps me as a manager to keep things in context.

How would you describe your coaching style and what can we expect from a West Kirby FC team that is managed by yourself?

I take an Holistic approach to coaching. I enjoy working with players closely and understanding what motivates them as individuals. In terms of what people can expect from us as a group, I would say that at this moment in time we need to focus on being pragmatic in matches. So, having one set style of play won’t be on the agenda.

TRFC half season review.

My midseason assessment of Tranmere’s 2021/22 campaign. It’s been mixed, it now seems special.

Given we’re now 23 games into the league season, I thought it would be a good time to give my thoughts on Rovers for those who’ll want them (if there are any!) or for me to just look back on come May. This campaign so far has been mixed, I’d say, but there have been plenty of positives and considering we’re currently sitting in second I certainly won’t be moaning too much, which is probably a first. 

So, we’re second but who are the teams around us and what do our results look like in terms of wins, defeats and draws? 

Sitting first are Forest Green who are quite comfortable at the top with seven points and a chance to make it ten with a game in hand. Third, fourth and fifth? Northampton Town, Sutton United and Swindon Town. Port Vale have the chance to get into the automatic promotion places with two games in hand, having had plenty of games postponed for various reasons including a cup run and COVID.

Tranmere, after 23 games, have won 12 and lost 6. Perfectly showing that this season has been mixed, with the positives overshadowing the few negatives such as the cup exits which I’ll touch on a bit further down this piece. The Whites have drawn five, not a great cause for concern.

This year was always going to be quite quite tricky, even though it started in the best of fashions by getting Micky Mellon back into the dugout following his stint at Dundee United. The Scot had plenty to do to turn Rovers into genuine promotion candidates, having fallen at Morecambe in the play-offs without too much of a fight.

I’ll soon touch on the work the 49-year-old has done so far, firstly I’m going to state my favourite moment of the season before I do that. 

Something which is emotional and has touched the hearts of many Tranmere supporters over the past year is the fight young Nate Gidman has put up to rid himself of a brain tumour, some probably even placing their challenges into perspective over the COVID era by thinking of him (this is something I’ve done). When Nate got given the news that his tumour was terminal, a fundraiser was created to raise money to give him the best of care and times at places that plenty of young children would love to go to.

Nate then made an appearance at Prenton Park, bringing a tear to many eyes by slotting the ball into the net in front of the Kop (even if his dad, Phil, did most of the work!) before celebrating with, his favourite show, ‘Thomas The Tank’ music playing on the tannoy. I caught up with Phil after this and he was saying how special that moment was for him, something that brings home how special the Rovers community is.

It’s extremely hard to top that, even though we’ve had plenty of special wins (beating Keith Hill on his return to the Wirral 4-0!). 

Micky Mellon, upon return, was tasked with improving the squad and I feel this is something he has achieved, with players wanting to fight for their places in the team and the commitment and quality never really hiding. 

Summer of 2021, 19 came in and 16 went out including the retirement of top goalscorer James Vaughan which was always going to be hard to recover from. 

There have been plenty of new players who have impressed me, I don’t think none have in the way that Elliott Nevitt has though. The former Warrington Rylands striker proving his football league ability whilst his cheerful post-match interviews certainly etch him into the hearts of fans. He’s someone who wants to be here, someone who has something to prove and someone that is excelling. It was a love story before it even started as his name can be heard sung aloud on matchdays.

Mellon is a clever manager (there’s not many with books out!) and he’s someone who will never let fans down as some, in the dugout, have in the past. Even when results and performances don’t show how good of a manager he is or how good his team is, there are some (including myself) who sit very content knowing what is about to come. 

We’ve seen this with our relegation scrap, we would’ve stayed up, in League One. We’ve seen this with our promotion in 2019, having a great start to ‘19 and we certainly saw this in our promotion the year before as we survived sitting 18th at one point to go up back to the EFL. 

Again, we’re seeing it after a mixed start as many had to find their feet having been brought in from elsewhere. Micky knew the task in hand though, stating in a book Q+A at Birkenhead in mid-September ‘You put together football teams like you put together meals, you look in the cupboard and assess what’s there, I needed to go shopping!’.

The goalkeeping situation started with Joe Murphy being the regular number one and he was excelling, keeping Rovers in games at times with Ross Doohan being his understudy. However, when Murphy got injured with concussion at Rochdale Doohan came into the side to silence an article (from a Celtic fan) which slated Mellon for not giving the youngster enough playing time. Doohan has impressed, showing that the goalkeeping competition at Prenton Park is extremely strong. Mellon tipped the 23-year-old to be the future Scotland number 1 in the Q+A I mentioned before. 

Scott Davies, signed in 2015 and instrumental in the promotions since then, has retired following his injury earlier on in the year (that brings a story of it’s own though).

Defensively, Tranmere are the best in the EFL having only conceded 14 goals this campaign. Peter Clarke and Tom Davies have forged a formidable partnership, Clarke having turned 40 in the past week and Davies being signed from Bristol Rovers. Left-back Calum MacDonald has had somewhat of a rocky start to the season. However, a poor summer suffering from shin splints has potentially brought this on as he showed what he was capable of last season. Josh Cogley has been sensational at right back though, with great defensive and attacking performances. Somewhat in reserve, but a strong starter when named, Lee O’Connor has proved me wrong as he now covers every blade of grass with Mellon certainly getting the best out of him at right-back and further up the pitch in midfield.

Another place of great strength is the centre, with fast wingers and experienced central midfielders keeping the team ticking going forwards and backwards. Jay Spearing and Sam Foley are the current partnership of choice in the heart, experienced pros who have had great success in the game. They’re both continuing their success throughout their performances and by teaching those who are upcoming including Chris Merrie, who has impressed whenever given the chance. 

Someone who hasn’t been given much of a chance, alongside Merrie, is Ryan Watson as the 28-year-old has impressed on the pitch with a goal to his name so far in the league. 

A solid source of goals are the wings, Kieron Morris having the season to remember as he sits top of the goal scoring tally with loanees Josh McPake and Josh Hawkes demonstrating what they can do from the left. The only cause for concern really is the form of both Liam Feeney and Callum McManaman, both showing little of what they’re capable of (in my opinion). 

Before Oldham Athletic away, a game in which I was displeased with our performance, if you told me that Charlie Jolley would be a shining light about to be released I’d have argued when the best time for him to come in would be. The 20-year-old scored the winner that night and has since forged a formidable partnership with fellow youngster, also with something to prove, Nevitt. The two are now our go-to striking partnership and there can be very little complaints, watch the highlights of the game against Scunthorpe United and you’ll see why. 

I’d like some players to be added to the squad, for depth and quality purposes. Following the injury of Nicky Maynard I feel like Rovers could add a striker. However, with the partnership mentioned above and a promising Paul Glatzel, I don’t know what he’d be given in terms of game time. This being a question that Mellon has probably thought of and answered, so we’ll see what the January window brings.

The only real annoyance of this campaign is that the club is out of all available cup competitions, usually strengthening the squad with the money they’re able to receive throughout their FA Cup adventures. However, I don’t think many are too fussed about the Papa John’s Trophy given the introduction of Premier League teams and the Carabao Cup brings a set of games in which many supporters would rather be focusing on the league.

This season I’ve done a few match reports for the Under18s, which has given me an insight into the talent that we have at disposal in the academy. Manager Alan Morgan is a great man to talk to, always up for giving interviews at the end of the game and he has drilled his team into being one of great solidiatry which has added to their footballing abilities. Ryan Stratulis and Kyle Hayde are two to watch out for. 

I’ve also done some media work, for my website, with the women’s team as I’ve spoken to forward Laura Pennington and manager Marc Joyce. It’d be great to see them do well in their search for promotion, currently sitting second in their division.

Now we’re in the new year in a very strong position, I believe a title charge isn’t too far out of the realms of possibility. It would certainly be almost poetic that Mellon on return is able to get the club out of the fourth division, a division that his side was placed into in a very unfair fashion. I’d like the club to add a few players to add a bit of depth to the squad, keep hold of the very talented youngsters we have and see how long we can keep this very positive momentum going. 

The final few months should be exciting as we are, once again, ‘Riding The Rover Coaster’. 

Ubi Fides x

Laura Pennington, TRFC ladies, interview.

Laura Pennington, TRFC ladies, interview.

Tranmere ladies have been impressing this season, with their progressive playing style meaning many goals are scored against the opposition they come up against. 

This has ensured that it has been a great start to Marc Joyce’s reign as manager, Rovers sitting second in the table and looking to add onto their league momentum with a victory this weekend against Mossley Hill.

I caught up with the scorer of nine goals so far this campaign in Laura Pennington, as her attention returns to sporting action following a winter break. 

Laura, thank you for your time, how would you describe yourself as a player and could you tell us a little bit about your career so far?

I started playing football from the age of 8 when I joined Mostyn Dragons boys team and then moved on to a girls team. 

I played for my local ladies team Northop Hall until I made the move to TNS a few years ago.

TNS dropped the ladies team for a season but the team moved and continued to play as Wem Town, that team was great as it was a closely knit group of players.

I made the move to Tranmere at the start of this season.

How would you describe your time at Tranmere? There seems to be a real togetherness in the squad and Marc Joyce seems to be getting the best out of that, with convincing wins and a great scoring record.

I’ve really enjoyed my time at the club so far, it’s been great. The girls I play with are lovely and have made me feel really welcome, the coaching staff are fantastic too. 

I’ve always been a striker or a player with an attacking role, I like making attacks happen and I love the goal involvements that creates. 

In training we tend to focus on our attack a little bit, there’s a good commitment from everyone in sessions.

What is it like to be a ladies footballer for Tranmere? Your weekly routine etc in terms of match preparation and recovery, touching on ladies football in general.

I work full time as an exercise physiologist at LHCH, which takes up quite a lot of my time in the week. 

The team trains on a Tuesday and a Thursday, which is a decent two hour session at Vauxhall. I also help the team with their strength and conditioning which is really cool to be given that opportunity. 

In my personal time, I like to do individual exercise so I will go on runs and go to the gym which adds to my match fitness and preparation.

Touching on the winter break your now coming off from, do you believe this break is important in football as it’s something that’s often spoken about in the men’s game too? How would you say your break has gone?

I personally enjoy the break from football but I continue to do my job during this time. I did manage to get Christmas day off though! 

I can see the importance of a break from sport. However, from a fan point of view I enjoy watching the games that are on television. 

We were hoping to get some training sessions in between Christmas and New Year but unfortunately a COVID outbreak put a stop to those plans. It’s been frustrating, COVID putting a stop to footballing plans, but the league has been quite good with us this year with the rotational side of things.

Mossley Hill are the visitors this Sunday, have you spent much time considering what they play like and how would you say Rovers’ chances of getting another league win?

We definitely focus on the visitors quite a bit when we’re in training. We’ve also played Mossley Hill once this season so we’ll bare that in mind too. 

I feel this is an unexpected game as we were supposed to be having another week off before returning to action. However, it’s good to be back and we’ve got to make sure that we’re focused. 

The previous game against them went quite well, I got my first competitive hat trick and we won nine or ten nil so it was quite a high scoring game. 

I believe they had quite a few players away that day, through injuries etc but that doesn’t take anything away from our performance. 

It’s always important to go into games with a positive mindset and we were feeling prepared after training last night. It was great to see all the girls back together again and we’re looking forward to playing again.

Lastly, as we look at the remaining months of the season, what would you say your personal and team aims are for this campaign? 

We’d love to get promoted! I feel this season is going really well for us so that is a realistic goal. In terms of my game, it’s important to continue doing what I love the most in scoring and making assists. 

Scunthorpe United meeting the opposition.

Scunthorpe United meeting the opposition.

The previous game between Tranmere and Scunthorpe was played at United’s ground in late August 2021, a performance from Rovers that screamed that there were plenty of problems to be sorted out.

Now in January 2022, the hosts this time round sit in a much more comfortable position in the table and the positive momentum has resulted in Micky Mellon being named as the league’s manager of the month for December. 

In the opposite dugout sits Keith Hill, a man who Rovers fans know plenty about as he returns to Prenton Park looking to frustrate his previous employers. 

I spoke to a Scunthorpe supporter, Toby Skelton, about the on and off pitch situations at Scunthorpe United before he gave his thoughts on how he can see the game panning out and much more. 

What were your expectations going into the season and what are they now as we enter the second half of the campaign?

My expectations were always fairly low. After a poor end to last season and even more budget cuts over the summer, I think every Scunthorpe fan expected to be in a relegation scrap this season. To survive again this season would be a great feat.

What are your thoughts on those in charge at The Iron. Keith Hill is the newly appointed manager whereas Peter Swann is the chairman.

Keith Hill has been a breath of fresh air since coming in. He’s massively increased the fitness levels of the squad which was one of the major issues under Cox, and he’s made us defensively competent, which is a complete turnaround from the previous regime. As for Swann, he’s always been a contentious figure. Perhaps over the last few months however, he has gradually begun trying to rectify some of his previous mistakes, and adding popular supporter Simon Elliott to the club board has certainly helped relations between the fans and the chairman.

Scunthorpe’s danger men?

Good question! I’m not even sure I could tell you. We’ve been toothless up front all season. Top scorer Ryan Loft was sold during the week, so we’ll have to see what new loan signing Sam Burns has to offer if he gets a start.

The last time these two clubs met was in August, the hosts (yourselves) winning 1-0. How would you describe the way that game was played?

It was a fairly boring affair. Tranmere passed it around well and their players showed some good touches, but looked very poor in attack. We got a slightly fortuitous penalty which was converted by Miles Hippolyte, but overall, we did have a few chances but Joe Murphy in goal was in top form, making some key saves.

How do you see the upcoming fixture panning out? (Score prediction) and why, if you do, do you think this meeting will pose different questions than the previous encounter did?

I think it will be 1-1. Under Hill we’re very hard to beat and I imagine he will be very up for this match against his former employers. I expect chances will be fairly limited for both sides. Keith Hill has been somewhat of a 1-1 specialist for us, and I would not be at all surprised if he got another draw under his belt.

What starting eleven do you think Hill will select and how would you describe his playing style in the time he’s spent at the club so far? Rovers fans will know a little bit about this considering he was manager of Tranmere last season.

It’s very difficult to predict the starting line up as we have a few covid cases so predicting a starting line up would be a complete stab in the dark. I would expect Hippolyle to be the focal point for us, trying to feed balls through to the strikers. Our fitness levels are very good now too so I think we will certainly try and run at the

Rovers defence with players like Devarn Green. We tend to be a second half team nowadays, so if you are 1-0 up at half time, do not take the win as a given, even despite our lowly position in the league.

How would you describe the matchday at Prenton Park too, if you have experienced it in the past?

I’ve actually never been! It will be my first time going there on Saturday and I’m very much looking forward to it.

As we have now entered the January transfer window, who would you like United to sign this month? Would you say there are positions that you’d like to be strengthened?

We certainly need a new striker, that’s for sure. I would like to see an experienced central midfielder in the building, plus a new centre back as George Taft has been fairly unreliable so far this term, and captain Harry Davis has a questionable injury record.

Matt Jones. ATTTM Podcast in 2021.

Matt Jones.

Why Tranmere, the ATTTMPod and my personal work looks strong heading into 2022. 

Matt Jones is the co-presenter of a great Tranmere podcast in the shape of the ‘A Trip To The Moon’, a podcast that has very recently brought the very interesting cases of those such as Connor Jennings and Ray Matthias to light. 

Ahead of the upcoming calendar year I spoke to Matt about the form that Tranmere find themselves in going into the second half of the season, the interviewees that we are yet to hear the stories of and how great it now is to be busy having found more freelance media work following on from the Covid pandemic difficulties. 

Those who enjoy his work have a lot to look forward to in 2022. 

How would you describe the success of the podcast throughout the calendar year of 2021? Do you believe that, if there were any, the aims to be met at the start of the calendar year were?

I would definitely say it’s been a success over the course of the year as we doubled the amount of subscribers that we initially had. We’ve also had some great interviews on there, some really good exclusives and people have been really keen to come on. 

I’m not sure what aims we necessarily had to meet but in terms of success? Yeah, I’m absolutely delighted with how it has gone and hopefully we can keep finding people who want to come on and be interviewed.

Would you say that there were particular moments throughout the year were people were subscribing or would you describe the success in terms of viewers as steady?

There are certain interviews that we know will make people sign up if they happen. For example, we had Micky Mellon on just before the Christmas period of 2020. I knew Micky from my days at the Liverpool Echo and Radio City, he was happy to come on. 

What’s surprised me slightly is that it’s often the more recent faces that build traction, an example being when James Vaughan spoke of his best eleven. However, every single podcast has been well received.

To tell you a little bit about how we work, we try to have a different era spoken about each week. For example, we wouldn’t put out a podcast with a promotion winner from the most recent play-off successes as it would just be the same stories, relatively, spoken about. It’s nice to have a bit of variety and meet different people’s needs. 

We spoke a little bit about Micky Mellon before, touching on the podcast that he did with yourself. How would you describe his re-introduction at the club and do you believe we’re heading into the new year with a bit of positivity after a mixed 2021?

I believe we’re at a much better position now than at this point last year. Although you’d look at our league position then and think we were in a great place to mount a promotion push, you always feared that it’d fall by the wayside a little bit because of many factors including having to play the games behind closed doors. We’ve seen this season how great the fan impact can have at Tranmere and this is something that Micky speaks about quite a bit in his meetings with the press.

Ultimately, the goal in 2021 was to go up thus the season was a failure. However, another great disadvantage to our promotion push was the long-term injury of James Vaughan and any team losing his calibre of quality would struggle to meet their goals. 

Touching on Mellon’s return, it’s been slightly mixed at times results wise. It’s hard to say whether his players have been putting more effort in than Keith Hill’s were, as many have left. However, you always know what you’re going to get from a Mellon side and I’d say that this team is pretty much a mirror of the 2018/19 team without having a goalscorer as prolific as James Norwood. It’s the same style of football, grinding out results, wearing your heart on your sleeve etc so the re-introduction has been, as things stand, a success. 

Another thing that is giving a lot of people faith going forwards is that we’re now in the January transfer window and as we’ve seen in 2018, 2019 and 2020 we always tend to improve from that point on. It’ll be interesting to see how we do this time round but I don’t think the league is as good as it has been in the recent past. 

Touching back on the podcast, who would you say provided the best listens throughout the course of last year? Personally, I really enjoyed the Connor Jennings one.

Loads were great for various reasons. 

The Otis Khan one was great. However, that gained a lot of negativity from Walsall supporters who misconstrued what was said. Graham Branch was really open and honest, you don’t often find interviewees answering questions with the level of truth he gave. There was a great St Yates Day special, 20 years on from beating Everton at Goodison Park, Andy Parkinson came on to that and so did an Everton fan! Steve Davies, Alan Navaro and Ash Taylor – another great three.

I was surprised with Taylor’s podcast, I thought I had an image of what he would be like but he was a real down to earth guy. The story that was painted about his exit was a complete fabrication of what had actually happened. 

There was so much that we did, but none of this could happen without the individual willing to come on to the podcast and being open and honest about their stories. 

Would you say that the podcast has helped you slightly as a journalist?

As I’ve done hundreds and thousands of interviews in the past I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily helped me improve on my skills in too many ways. However, to use a footballing cliche it’s certainly kept me match fit as I’d stopped interviewing after I left Radio City – I’d be interviewing six or seven people a day when I was presenting my show!

For 2022, would you say there are any working ambitions for yourself or for the podcast?

I don’t know if we’ve set any goals for the podcast. However, it’d be nice to get over the 300 subscriptions mark. The interviews tend to get viewed by those who aren’t subscribers though. For example, we had 16,000 listening to the podcast we did with Otis Khan. 

In terms of future podcasts, ones that have been done but not yet released, Eugene Dadi and Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro. Also, there is a very large list of people who we are working slowly through to come onto the podcast throughout the course of the year. 

My work away from the podcast though, a lot has changed since I last spoke to you. I have started working with IMG who have rights for the EFL thus I’ve commentated on a few match highlight videos. I’ve worked with Talksport, I commentate on some games for BBC Local Radio and I commentate for the Burnley Women’s team. It’s a lot nicer to be busy than not. I hope I can work on that, keep that going because I enjoy that and I hope others do too.

Can we touch on the work you do for TalkSport? What are your responsibilities for them and how did you get your foot in the door there?

I freelance for numerous companies. Talksport comes to me a few times a month and asks me to cover a few games for them. I provide reports into the show on what is going on in the game, goals and cards etc wise.

Freelance is good but definitely provided me with some difficulties throughout the pandemic.

Placing our focus back on Tranmere, with the January transfer window now open. Who would you like to be brought in and would you say there are positions that you’d like to be strengthened?

After the injury to Nicky Maynard and presuming Ste Walker is going back to Middlesbrough, I feel we need to strengthen our strikeforce. James Norwood will definitely not be coming back, considering his upturn in form at Ipswich but we could maybe do with one or two strikers.

Could one of those attacking players be youngster Josh McPacke? I’ve seen little bits of him, he’s been recalled from his loan spell at Morecambe which only strengthens the rumours but who knows when, or if, that will be confirmed. He’s clearly a talented player, you must have something about you to come through at Rangers so I’d never say no to someone who could offer that attacking quality to the team. 

Defence wise? Maybe we could add a bit of depth but we’ve seen that Chris Maguire and Kyle Hayde can do a job there so I would probably say that’s not too much of a worry.

Barrow meeting the opposition.

Barrow meeting the opposition.

With many Boxing Day games being called off, Tranmere and Barrow supporters are lucky that they have something to look forward to this Christmas. Micky Mellon’s Tranmere are set to host Mark Cooper’s Barrow in a League Two fixture that brings Ollie Banks and Mark Ellis back to Prenton Park.

With that in mind, I spoke to Bluebirds fan Taylor Nelson who gave his thoughts on Barrow’s season so far, how he believes the game will pan out and other subjects that relate to either club before giving his score (scoreless) prediction.

How long have you supported Barrow? Why and how did your love for the club come about?

I first started attending games when I was six. We were playing in the Conference North at that time and me and my dad used to go to the odd game with Barrow being our local team having grown up not far from the ground at all. Eventually, as I got older, it continued to become a more regular thing until I started attending every week and 

became a regular season ticket holder.

Since you’ve been supporting the club, what have been your best and worst footballing experiences?

One of the best experiences would have to be promotion to the Football League. The only downside is that we didn’t get to celebrate it in the way we would have liked or perhaps achieve it in the way we would have preferred either. I guess that pretty much answers both parts to the question!

Random fact about Barrow? (The club/The area)

We have won the FA Trophy twice – once at the old Wembley in 1990 and once at the new Wembley in 2010.

How would you describe The Bluebirds’ campaign so far and what are your hopes/expectations for the months ahead?

Inconsistent. A work in progress. There’s been signs that we are a decent side but we lack a goalscorer and I feel that has impacted on our overall performance with the rest of the team having to carry the burden. In recent weeks, we seem to have turned a corner and I hope that this is more of an indication of what is to come after a frustrating run prior to that. January will be massively important for us.

Taking a look at Boxing Day’s game, who would you say are the key players for either side?

Robbie Gotts will no doubt play a key role in how we perform on the day. From my perspective, Tranmere present themselves as a relatively solid team defensively and I think tackling Peter Clarke and Tom Davies – a player we know a little about after his loan spell last season – will be a tough challenge to overcome.

How do you believe the fixture will be approached by Mark Cooper, in terms of tactics and team selection?

Tough to say! Of course every game is approached differently but I would like to see us approach the game with the same positivity we did against Ipswich. 

What are the fanbase’s thoughts on the club’s ownership? Are there any current off-pitch plans that are creating a sense of excitement?

Nothing too glamorous but we’re ticking over nicely and making every bit of use of the money we have available to us. We’re a smaller club compared to many in the division so unfortunately we’re not as blessed with our facilities. We’re always looking to improve on what we have and I expect the board will continue to do as they have over the past twelve to eighteen months.

Thoughts on Tranmere? The club in general.

I can’t say I have much of an opinion on Tranmere. They’re a club with aspirations quite different to us this season and the facilities and fan-base to assist them. Good luck to them. 

The January transfer window is fast approaching, who would you like to see brought to Holker Street?

A striker who knows where the net is. Quite simply.

Finishing off, your score prediction for the festive fixture at Prenton Park?

Neither team is blessed with goals, I’ll go for a 0-0 draw.

Conversation with TRFC stadium announcer.

In conversation with Richie Tierney.

The voice of a Tranmere matchday is Richie Tierney, Tranmere’s stadium announcer doing his role since the 1980’s. Thus, many will know about him. However, not many will know of his complete story.

In a discussion with Richie, I spoke to him about the responsibilities that his role brings, how long he has been following the club and a crazy story which involves former Tranmere owner Frank Corfe amongst many other talking points.

How long have you been going to Tranmere games for and what are your best/worst footballing experiences through this time?

I have been a Rovers fan for 59 years. My first game was Rovers v Mansfield on Easter Monday 1962 with my dearest father and we won 5 – 1. This is my 36th season, doing my role, I’ve loved it. 

My best footballing experience actually didn’t happen at Prenton Park but over the water at Goodison Park. Everton 0 Tranmere 3. It was an absolutely fabulous performance and a great day out. The worst was the 2001 FA Cup versus Liverpool we lost 2 – 4 but that’s not the whole story as dreadful refereeing cost us dearly.

You are the stadium announcer at Prenton Park. When and how did you get this role?

Going back to the 80’s I was a member of Birkenhead Park Cricket Club and on the committee was Clive James who was also on the TRFC supporters club. The PA announcer at the time had had enough and the supporters club started looking for his replacement. As I was also the resident DJ at BPCC Clive knew I was a Rovers fanatic and asked me if I fancied it and you bet I did with open arms.

How would you describe your role and the responsibilities you have that some may not know about? Would you say it’s a rewarding and interesting job?

My role at Prenton Park is to keep the fans informed of what’s happening on match days: teams, scorers (usually correct), subs (if the 4th official turns his board towards the box) and the time being added on. Also safety announcements when required. It’s a totally rewarding task for me. I wouldn’t call it a job as I love it so much and as for rewarding? Yes, as I get in for free!

What are some of the best and worst working experiences you’ve had in your time as Tranmere stadium announcer? 

I’ll explain the worst by far first. Prenton Park, FA Cup, vs QPR. Chris Wright was the chairman in waiting at QPR. Pre match I met a few QPR fans in the pub and during our conversation they remarked that if they didn’t get rid of Ray Wilkins they would get relegated. We got beat 2-0 so I wasn’t that happy. As the away fans were leaving, that was when they were on the Kop, I spotted the lads I met in the pub so I wished them all a safe journey home and we would see them in the Endsleigh League next season. About 10 minutes later the phone rang in the box and it was Chairman Frank Corfe who promptly sacked me. I found out later that Chris Wright had complained about me implying they would be relegated and was furious. I was escorted from Prenton Park. So Sunday afternoon I drove up to Scotland to catch the ferry to Belfast. I then returned to Scotland on Tuesday and received a phone call from a Radio asking if I would do an interview later that morning with them regarding my sacking. I was on the road to Glasgow when I received a call from Frank Corfe. He had also been asked for an interview with Radio Merseyside. Frank then phoned me and said if I refuse to do the interview I could have my job back so obviously I didn’t do the interview. QPR got relegated so I was correct in my comment.

I’ll have to be honest and say that all games are the best for me as I love my job so much.

Outside of your work for the club, do you have other jobs and what would you say your hobbies are? Are you a massive fan of football in general?

I am an area Sales Manager for a Chemical construction supplier. However, I haven’t worked for nearly 2 years now because of lung cancer and a brain tumour. I do enjoy all football but don’t like it when Liverpool and Everton win, although not much to worry about with Everton at the moment.

Touching on Tranmere teams, since you’ve been stadium announcer at the club who would get into your best eleven and who would manage them?

It’s always difficult picking an all time best 11 as you tend to change your mind regularly. So if any Rovers players I have left out there I’m sorry. However, I’d go for: Eric Nixon, Tony Thomas, Ian Goodison, Mark Hughes, Gareth Roberts, Jason Koumas, Jimmy Harvey, Paul Hall, John Aldridge, Ian Muir and Pat Nevin. They’d be managed by Johnny King.

Tranmere 1 Harrogate 2. Match report.

Tranmere Rovers v Harrogate Town

Tuesday 21st December 2021, 7pm 

Papa Johns Trophy

Prenton Park

Match report.

Harrogate Town progressed into the third round of the Papa Johns Trophy with a victory over Tranmere on Tuesday night.

The tie was played at Prenton Park, last season’s finalists looking to go on a cup run having already exited the FA and Carabao cups.

Micky Mellon fielded a strong attack with Nicky Maynard as the focal point. Simon Weaver placed Jack Diamond in his starting eleven, Jack Muldoon sat on the bench.

The opening stages were dominated by an inspiring and attacking Rovers, a succession of crosses would soon result in Maynard adding on to his tally for the club. The former Mansfield bagsman has shown his abilities in cup competitions this campaign, Micky Mellon preferring a partnership of Elliott Nevitt and Charlie Jolley for league games.

Both sides continued to grow into the game from this, the defensive shapes remaining relatively solid throughout. Joe Maguire came close to doubling the hosts lead when a looping header was tipped over by 31-year-old keeper Mark Oxley. Callum McManaman’s bending effort from range whistled past the post soon afterwards. 

A resolute defence frustrated the visitors who could only muster a few blocked attempts on goal amongst a couple of comfortably dealt with crosses. 

Mellon’s team went into the half in front. However, it was Simon Weaver’s team that impressed in the opening stages of the second as a couple of dangerous crosses were put in by Diamond and right-back Ryan Fallowfield. Tom Davies cleared the latter’s dangerous low driven effort.

This period of intent resulted in an equaliser as substitute Muldoon brought the visitors level. The goal only added to The Sulphurites forward thinking appetite.

To break up play and aim to combat further attacks from Weaver’s men, midfielder Sam Foley replaced EFL veteran attacker Mark Duffy for Tranmere. Diamond soon went into the book for a foul on Callum McManaman.

The aim to combat didn’t come to fruition, Middlesbrough academy graduate Alex Pattison scoring the goal that edged The Sulphurites into the lead.

Three changes would soon follow for the hosts. Jolley, Nevitt and Lee O’Connor replaced Liam Feeney, Chris Merrie and goalscorer Maynard with twenty minutes left on the clock. 

However, apart from Peter Clarke being subbed on to be a striker and the visitors winning consecutive corners there was little else to report on in the closing stages of the midweek encounter.

Harrogate Town will face Carlisle United at The EnviroVent Stadium in the Papa Johns Trophy third round.

Teams.

Tranmere: Joe Murphy, Liam Feeney, Kyle Hayde, Tom Davies, Joe Maguire, Calum MacDonald, Ryan Watson, Chris Merrie, Mark Duffy, Nicky Maynard, Callum McManaman.

Subs on: Peter Clarke, Lee O’Connor, Sam Foley, Charlie Jolley, Elliott Nevitt.

Harrogate: Mark Oxley, Ryan Fallowfield, Lewis Page, Nathan Sheron, Warren Burrell, Josh Falkingham, Alex Pattison, Lloyd Kerry, Luke Armstrong, George Thomson, Jack Diamond.

Subs on: Jack Muldoon.

Stats.

Possession – 44/56

Shots on target – 6/2

Fouls – 9/10

Offsides – 2/2

Corners – 7/7

What they said.

Tranmere coach Andy Parkinson – ‘It was a game of two halves, although that is a clique. In the first half, we created chances and probably should’ve went into the half three nil up. However, in the second we didn’t do enough to keep that lead. They changed their formation at half time to match ours and we didn’t do enough against them to match their shape correctly.We probably should’ve equalised right at the depth as we grew into the half’.

Harrogate manager Simon Weaver – ‘Our second half was great. The players played with great intensity and passed the ball well into progressive scenarios. We were a different proposition after the break. We looked sloppy and soft in the first half, the attack looked isolated too so we were looking for a reaction’.